College Money

4 Steps to Getting More Financial Aid Money

If you’re the parent of a high school senior, I’m betting that you’re a bundle of nerves right about now. Not only are you anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters, but also trying to figure out how you’re going to pay for everything. Although the economy is starting to show improvement, many of you are still recovering from several years of meager wages or loss of savings, which means you are probably counting on colleges to be very generous with their financial aid offers. In fact, how much or how little a college is willing to give you may ultimately decide where your child will be attending college this fall. Unfortunately, you may not realize that there are some steps you can take that will help increase your chances of getting the most financial aid possible. If you are concerned about how you are going to pay for your child’s education, consider following these four steps.

1. Move the Money Around

Before you start the financial aid process, consider moving money from your child’s assets into your personal accounts. Why? On the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FAFSA, your child’s personal assets are assessed at a higher rate than yours. The federal government assumes your child can use up to 20 percent of his/her savings to help pay for college, but your money will only be assessed at 5.64 percent. Parents’ assets are also protected to a certain extent, but your dependent child would have no protection. Funds you may want to consider transferring include savings bonds, certificates of deposit, savings and checking accounts. Consult with a financial specialist or tax adviser to determine which changes would be best for your family.

FAFSA2. Complete the FAFSA

The sooner you complete the FAFSA, the better. Every state and college has its own deadline for submitting the form (the federal deadline is June 30), but don’t wait until the last minute to complete it. Some colleges and states award financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so once the money is gone – that’s it. Even if you believe you make too much money to qualify for any federal grants, submit the form, as this is the key to getting institutional financial aid, as well. Even some private scholarship programs require students to submit the FAFSA in order to be considered for their awards. The FAFSA will also give your student access to low-rate federal student loans, should he or she need them. Be sure to review the form for accuracy and check out my helpful guide to avoiding common mistakes, as a simple error could significantly delay your child’s financial aid.

3. Submit All College Financial Aid Applications

It’s a common misconception that the FAFSA will give you access to all available college scholarships and grants. Although colleges use the information from the FAFSA to determine how much aid they will offer, you’ll need to complete the appropriate college financial aid forms, as well. Some schools may require you to complete the CSS / Financial Aid PROFILE® (non-federal financial aid form), in order to receive institutional scholarships and grants. Your child may also be eligible for other institutional aid that is given through the college’s foundation, alumni group, or specific departments. These programs may also require separate scholarship applications and materials. Be aware of deadlines for these programs, as many are in the early spring between January and March. You can typically search for available scholarships on the college’s financial aid website, but don’t hesitate to ask the Financial Aid Office about other opportunities to ensure you aren’t leaving any money on the table.

Ask fo More4. Appeal the Award Offer

Although the FAFSA allows colleges to get an understanding of what your family might be able to afford for college, it doesn’t always reflect the whole picture. For example, a recent loss of employment or change in hours could change your financial outlook for the upcoming year, but the college’s financial aid office won’t know about this unless you provide them with that information. If you’ve recently been hospitalized or had other events that may have drained your savings since filing the FAFSA, you’ll want to let the college know about those changes, too. The financial aid office can reconsider your award package, if you go through the appropriate steps and file an appeal before the deadline. You’ll need to contact the office directly and download any forms that need to be completed. Be prepared to submit documentation to support any claims you make, and spell out exactly what additional funding you will need and why.

Some parents may want to ask the financial aid department at one college to match another college’s financial aid package, but that can be a slippery slope. If you do decide to present other offers in an effort to increase your child’s aid package, avoid using the words ‘bargain’ or ‘negotiation’ as they tend to have a negative connotation. Instead, ask the financial aid officer to consider additional funding based on your child’s desire to enroll or his/her continued academic success over the last few months; most will do everything within their power to ensure your child receives as much aid as possible. The only guaranteed way NOT to receive any additional money is NOT to ask for it. In the meantime, while you are waiting for colleges to present their offers, encourage your child to continue applying for scholarships. Every little bit helps!

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Tamara is the Social Media Coordinator and a regular writer for, and She enjoys helping students prepare for college. As a mother of four, Tamara has first-hand experience with many areas of education, including special needs (autism), the International Baccalaureate program and post-secondary education. She enjoys speaking at schools and mentoring others online. In her free time, Tamara enjoys volunteering and supporting her favorite football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
177 Responses to “4 Steps to Getting More Financial Aid Money”
  1. Susie Watts says:

    Great article with good information on the FAFSA. Too many families find the whole financial process too complicated to even bother to apply.

  2. kelvin bass says:

    Such informations are quite helpful. Nice one on FAFSA!

  3. joan says:

    If the childs savings is moved how long must it be in the parents account?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If you plan to place the savings in your account, do it from the start or at least a few years prior to high school graduation. It will raise red flags if a substantial amount is moved within the last year of school.

      • ewilder says:

        Great article. Thank you. I have a question. My daughter is 19 and lives at home. Next semester she will finish her 2 years of community college and start at a state university in the fall of 2015. We have paid for her first two years of community college but she will have to get loans when she goes to the big school. We’ll help out with car insurance or other small things. My question is if I need to NOT claim her as a dependent when I file my 2014 taxes. Will that help her get more loans money or grants? Obviously it helps me still being able to claim her on my taxes but I don’t want that to hurt her chances for college money next fall. I would love any advice you have to give. Thank you so much. I have three kids and this is the first one going to college so I am not sure what’s the wisest thing to do.


        • Tamara Krause says:

          Please continue to claim her while you can as it will not affect her financial aid. She is required, as a dependent student, to include your income until she is 24 regardless of where she lives or her tax filing status.

          • ewilder says:

            Thank you for the response. We are considering having her live by campus in an apartment she would share. If we do that and she no longer lives with us will that help her financial aid opportunities?


          • Tamara Krause says:

            It will only adjust her cost of attendance, as her off-campus living expenses would be used. In some cases, it could actually lower the amount she receives, especially if the rent for the apartment is much lower than on-campus dorm fees.

  4. Dai Lay says:

    I am planning to move to another state on June after graduate in HS. I want to apply for FAFSA application for the college where i will be moving to. I heard some people said that if you plan to move another state you have to wait for another year to apply FAFSA. I don’t want to wait for one long year. IS THAT CORRECT?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      No, that is not correct. You can file the FAFSA regardless of where you are living. If you are moving to establish residency, however, you may be wasting your time because colleges determine your in-state or out-of-state status based on where your parents live, not you. You would have to meet the qualifications of an independent student to have your residency trump your parents.

  5. David says:

    Wanting to go to an aviation mechanic school. Applied for FAFSA, they said with tax returns for 2013, 2012 made to much. Is not true now for 2014. I have now a 50 percent cut in pay.
    How do I write to FAFSA to appeal? Or can I.


    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi David. Your 2014-2015 FAFSA is based on your 2013 income, not your current income. Although you cannot ‘appeal’ your FAFSA, you can speak with the financial aid department at your college and explain the changes in your employment/income. They have the ability to adjust the amount of need-based aid provided to you. You’ll need to provide documentation to show your income status has changed and is expected to remain the same for the upcoming school year, but ultimately it’s up to the school to increase your aid or not.

  6. Jyrell says:

    My husband lost his job the first April and now they didn’t give my child Pell Grant. What do I needed to do or do I needed to call financial department at school? Please let me know. I’m try to find money from some where but I don’t know what to do. Please help and thank you.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Please contact your financial aid department and alert them to the change in your financial situation. They may be able to recalculate your child’s adi package for the upcoming year.

  7. Amy says:

    Is it true that students whose parents have college degrees receive less aid than students with non college educated parents?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Amy. Your college financial aid is based on income, not your parent’s level of education, but people with a college education tend to earn more than those w/o a degree. So, students with parents who do not have a college education may find themselves in a lower income bracket and eligible for more financial assistance than students whose parents have an advanced degree and a larger income.

  8. Via Conlon says:

    Does my having a 401(K) account, brokerage account, stock holdings, etc.. mean less or no financial aid for my high school senior?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Although pensions, annuities and the cash value of a life insurance policy – known as a whole-life policy – is not reported as an asset on the FAFSA, any other taxable and non-taxable income must be reported. This includes interest and dividends, Social Security, child support, workers compensation/disability income and other assets held by you. In general, a family of four must make less than $29,000 to qualify for any Pell Grant aid. Even if your income is much higher than this threshold, it’s important to complete the FAFSA, as most colleges require it in order for students to receive any institutional aid, including merit-based scholarships. It’s also to only way to access federal student loans, which have lower interest rates and offer more flexible repayment options.

  9. Kimberly says:

    I am a single parent making roughly 40k a year and seeking as much financial aid as possible. My child was receiving child support at the time we completed the FAFSA, however since the completion of the FAFSA my child has turned 18 and no longer receives support. We were hoping to qualify for a Pell Grant but unfortunately we didn’t. Is the child support causing the disqualification and if so can we make changes to FAFSA in hopes of now qualifying or will those changes only ‘possibly’ benefit us next year?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi, Kimberly. Is this the 2014-2015 FAFSA? If so, then the income loss that happened in 2014 would not change anything on the FAFSA, but could possibly help you for next year. Even with the loss in child support, your income may prevent you for receiving a Pell Grant. The typical family income is under $30,000 for a family of four. In the meantime, I encourage you to contact the college financial aid office and alert them to this change in your financial situation, as they do have the power to increase your aid. Be prepared to bring along documentation to show the change in income, as well as other financial paperwork (pay stubs, tax forms, etc.) to support your request for reconsideration.

  10. Cristine Crispin says:

    Hi Kimberly, I recently received the total amount of money I received from my FASFA. The amount isn’t going to be able to cover enough of my school tuition. Is there any ways I can talk to someone to request more money for my FASFA. I won’t be able to attend my College without it, thank you.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Christine,

      You would not contact FAFSA in this case. Your college determines how much financial aid you receive based on information from the FAFSA. I encourage you to contact your financial aid office and discuss your situation with them. If there has been a change in income since filing the form, they may be able to increase your financial aid package. If the financial aid offered still doesn’t cover the majority of your expenses, you may want to consider attending another college with lower tuition rates.

  11. Christine says:

    Hello. I am looking for any information on receiving assistance with secondary education. I would like to attend a “private” for lack of a better word massage school that does not deal with grants. They advised me that they can pick and choose their students and do not have to except certain people. I am a single mother of two and I make under $35,000. Any information would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If you choose a school that does not receive federal funding, you’ll find your opportunities for financial aid are very limited. I would encourage you to look into programs at your local community college, as you may qualify for federal assistance and have access to low-interest federal loans, which have more flexible repayment terms than private loans. Most private scholarship programs will also require you to attend an accredited college or university, so be sure any school you choose falls within this category. If it doesn’t, you’re pretty much on your own to cover the costs.

  12. Luis Pineda says:

    Hello. I just got my financial aid award for 2014-2015. This is my first time that I applied as independent, I turn 24. Last year, I got a lot more money in federal grants compare to this year. I only got 20% of what i got last year but I reported the same income. Why is that? I thought been independent would guarantee more money than reporting my parents instead of the opposite. What else can I do?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      I would review your FAFSA and make sure there were no errors. If you still feel your EFC was too high, or your financial aid package was too low, contact your college’s financial aid office and ask them to review your Student Aid Report (SAR).

  13. Erik J Finnerty says:

    I am about to retire from the military and use my Post 9/11 GI Bill. This, in essence, is like having a “free ride” to the college that I will be going to. My question is this. I will be looking for part time jobs and was told to look into a company that pays tuition. If I work that job, and my tuition is already paid for will I be awarded the tuition money that the company would be paying to the school?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi, Erik. Typically, businesses that offer tuition reimbursement as an employee perk only cover tuition and fees that you pay out-of-pocket. In most cases, they will not reimburse you for tuition that is already being covered by another scholarship, grant or GI Bill. It’s best to speak with the HR department to determine what remaining balance, if any, would be covered through your employee benefit program.

  14. Viral D says:

    Hi I applied for first time for a loan through Fafsa and I got approved for a direct unsubsidized loan for amount more than the actual fee for the Graduate degree. What happens in this case? I am getting about $3000 more than the actual fee. Will it be adjusted against next term fee or I would be refunded that amount. Is it possible to take a loan only for the actual fee for the term? In this loan can we repay the principal as well as interest while we are still in college?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      When you receive a loan through the federal government, it includes more than just your tuition. You may borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance (COA), which includes not only tuition and fees, but also anticipated living and travel expenses (rent/housing, food, transportation, etc.). If you don’t need the entire amount, you don’t have to accept the full loan. In fact, I encourage you to borrow only what you need. If you take the full loan and don’t use the money on tuition and fees, some of the proceeds may be treated as income and you may have to pay taxes on it. You may begin paying back your loan at anytime without penalty.

  15. Jorge says:

    Hi. Last year I made around $30,000 but this year I decided to quit my job in order to focus on school. I am still looking for a job and the next semester is about to start. Is the anyway I explain this in the FAFSA application? Thanks.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Jorge. The income you make this year will not have any bearing on the FAFSA because it uses income from last year. You can, however, speak with your financial aid office and explain the change in income to them. They may be able to offer you additional financial aid. The good thing is that when you complete the new FAFSA in January for the 2015-2016 school year, you should be eligible for more aid.

  16. Danny says:

    I have two kids that will be attending college within the same year. Will they receive more or less federal aid by attending the same time or should I let one wait until the other has completed college?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      It’s actually better to have both enrolled at the same time, as your Expected Family Contribution will be lower per child, which could result in more aid.

  17. Stephanie says:

    I am still in need of financial aid after being awarded some grants, scholarships and an unsubsidized & subsidized loans.
    My parents make too much money, and have bad credit because of some difficult years financially several years ago. Thus, they were denied for a ParentPlus loan.
    Besides getting someone else with good credit to co-sign a loan, what can I do to obtain additional financial assistance?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Obtaining a private loan with the help of a cosigner is probably your best bet, but I would also encourage your to apply for more scholarships and try your luck at crowdfunding. If you still find that you cannot afford your college’s tuition and fees, you may want to consider starting at a community college or looking into a cheaper school.

  18. MiChelle says:

    Hi. I am a continuing grad student that has transferred to another University. When feeling out my application to the University I mentioned that my employer offers Tuition Reimbursement and my financial aid award amount was reduced. I do not receive the funds from my employer until after the course is taken and will be out of pocket those funds until reimbursed. Is there anyway to get more money awarded so I will not have to pay out of pocket until I am reimbursed? Would you recommend appealing financial aids decision?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Appealing the decision will probably not result in any change, as the college views your employer’s tuition reimbursement program as a source of financial aid. Although you will have to pay the fees up front, you will receive the money back shortly after the semester ends. If you can swing the fees, this is the best option for you, as you should only have to pay out-of-pocket the first semester. You can use your reimbursement check to fund the following semester and so on. If that’s not an option, take out a federal student loan and pay it back as soon as you receive your funds.

  19. Irene says:

    My son is beginning his 2nd year of college. Last year he received a 2 year NSF scholarship and some financial aid. We still paid for some of his expenses and he is very frugal, so he saved some of his scholarship money for future tuition. Will having $10,000 in his bank accounts hurt his prospects of keeping his need-based aid this year? When reporting his assets on FAFSA it states not to include scholarships or grants. Should he then only report what he has saved from other sources such as gifts and odd jobs? Thanks!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If he did not spend the money he received on qualifying educational expenses (tuition, fees, etc.), anything that remains would be considered income. Not only will he have to include this on his FAFSA, but he may also be liable for income taxes, as well. Any income he has is also assessed at a higher rate than any assets you or your husband may have, so this could potentially decrease his need-based aid package. If, however, he uses the entire amount to cover his spring tuition (paying the fees prior to March) he should be fine (IRS allows you to count expenses during the period that includes the beginning of the academic year or the first 3 months of the next year). Speak with a financial planner to see how you may be able to mitigate the potential decrease in aid, as you may be able to place those funds in a different type of account to lessen the impact on his financial aid.

  20. Lisa says:

    Hi there,

    We have a son starting his senior year and I am trying to prepare for the FAFSA application.

    Recently my husband and I did a refi and took out money for a construction project that we will be doing summer of 2015. FAFSA is going to ask how much is in our money market/savings account and our balance will show our 20,000 for construction. What should we do? Also I have EE & I bonds in my name for my son’s education. Do I have to report them, if I haven’t redeemed them yet?

    Thank you

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Lisa. Any money you have in savings and checkings at the time you apply for FAFSA (January) will need to be reported, so if you can prepay any of the expenses for your 2015 project, I would do so before December 31. You will have to report the bonds because they are considered an asset but thankfully they are in your name, so those funds will be assessed at a lower rate (up to 5.64) and not the higher student rate of 20%. I would encourage you to meet with a financial adviser to assess your current situation. You can also use the FAFSA4caster to get an idea of how much financial aid your son may be eligible to receive.

  21. Joan says:

    Hi there!

    I have filled out the fafsa for the last four years for my daughter who will graduate college spring 2015. My other daughter turned 18 in Dec 2013 and I was still able to claim her on my taxes/fafsa – but she will not graduate high school until spring of 2015 – so I will not be able to claim her on my 2014 taxes. She is starting to look at colleges and apply for Fall of 2015. How will this effect the fafsa filing for my second daughter? I only make about $35,000 a year and my first daughter was eligible for grants and aid packages.

    Thank you

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Joan. You will still be able to claim your daughter on your taxes. Dependents must be under 19, or full-time students (24 and younger). As for the FAFSA, even if your income is about the same, you may receive less aid for your second daughter because your older daughter will not be enrolled in school when your second daughter enters college. Please encourage your daughter to start applying for scholarships, as this may help offset any reduction in aid you may receive.

  22. Olga Gonzalez says:

    Hello Tamara, its good reading your article from personal experience with your own.. I’ve recent moved to Atlanta from PR to seek better work opportunities. My son has been attending all thru his elementary to High School a small Baptist Christian School. He has had a preference towards Computer engineering or science and he is bilingual, His grades and Sat are in average score.
    I am presently looking for a Job in this affected economy so i have no funds to help my son at present.
    Where do i start and what possibilities could he have of getting a scholarship to cover most of the expenses.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Olga. Please be sure that your son completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as this will give him access to federal grants, scholarships and student loans. This will be available beginning January 1, if he is a senior this year. I also encourage you to have him register for a free account with He should be trying to apply to at least 4 or more scholarships per month. There are many scholarships for engineering students, so the early he starts applying the more chances he’ll have to win. Since you are currently unemployed, this may actually benefit your son, as he’ll most likely be eligible for need-based aid from any institution he attends. Very few students, however, earn enough in scholarships to cover all their expenses. Most use a combination of federal, state and institutional aid, along with private scholarships and student loans.

  23. MaritzaQuintana says:

    I am enrolled part time. So i did not use all the money I got awarded. So I was wondering what happens to that money that’s leftover? Do you get to keep it?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If there is any money remaining in your student account, you’ll typically receive a disbursement of those funds 6-8 weeks after the semester begins. Keep in mind that you will not be eligible for the same amount a full-time student would receive and your aid is awarded on a year-by-year basis.

  24. Amani says:

    So I I qualified for both subsidized and Unsubsidized loan but I was only offered the subsidized loan and not the Unsubsidized loan I don’t have a job I am a full time independent student who is also married. What should I do to receive my other part of my loan that I qualified from fasfa? And it’s my first time too to apply for fasfa so I have no balance with fasfa

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Although you may qualify for both types of federal loans, you will only be eligible to receive financial aid up to the total cost of attendance. I would speak with your financial aid office and ask if you have reached the maximum allowed for the semester/year.

  25. Joe says:

    Hi, I had a child a few months ago will I get more aid rewarded since are family is now 3 instead of 2 with the same income?

  26. Diana says:


    I have been getting student loans as my financial aid. Turns out I will reach my limit amount of loan money for a dependent student in the spring 2015. I will turn 24, so my status will change to independent. Would that make me elegible to get more money from student loans? I know the max limit is different for dependent VS independent status. I just don’t know how that would all work out. I am also planning to go to school spring, summer and fall 2015. Would I be able to get any aid for that?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Diana. Whether you can receive additional funding depends on a few factors. One, regardless of your status as an independent or dependent student, you can only receive funding for up to 150% of the time expected to complete your undergraduate degree program. For example, if you are in a 4-yr program, you would only receive funding for up to 6 yrs. Second, if you have time still available, your change in status may allow the school to recalculate the remaining time at the higher rate. The best thing to do is visit your financial aid office and find out what you may be eligible to receive so you can start planning ahead for any gaps in aid you may have going forward.

  27. Richard Siebel says:

    Hello, This is good information. One question I have regarding the FAFSA forms is if our daughter submits a form showing her part time job during high school and no assets, how is it that they only qualify for a low interest loan? Would they not be under the 29,000 threshold and at least qualify for some form of federal aid? Also, once you fill out these forms, do you have to complete a separate one for each school or once completed can one form be sent to all schools? Lastly, once a college application is filed out and submitted, can the FAFSA be sent a few days later or should it be done at the same time?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi, Richard. If your daughter is under 24, her income and yours will be considered in determining her eligibility for aid. Student income is also assessed at a higher rate than yours. You only need to complete the FAFSA once per year and you can have it sent to any school your daughter may be applying to for next year. You won’t be able to complete the FAFSA for 2015-2016 until after January 1, so she will most likely submit her college applications first, which is fine. Once a college receives your SAR (student aid report) from the FAFSA, it will determine her eligibility for federal and institutional aid.

  28. Karen says:

    Hi there,

    When my daughter fills out the FAFSA for next year 2015/2016, it will be her 2nd year of college. She used my income last year(I am divorced) for the FAFSA. She has a work study job and will have a side job to help with paying her rent and living expenses. She plans on filing her own taxed for 2013. Will she still be able to use my income on the FAFSA or does she use her own? She is really worried about how filing her own taxes will affect the FAFSA?

    Thank you!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If you daughter is still under 24, not married or in the military, and does not have any dependents, she will need to include your income, as well as her own. Her financial aid amount will probably change based on her income, as it is assessed at a higher rate than yours when determining eligibility for federal aid.

  29. MT says:

    Tamara if I receive a life insurance payout from my mother passing of $50000 will this impact my daughters financial aid or our ability to get financial aide for next year?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Although life insurance proceeds are typically not counted as income for tax purposes, you are required to include any money you have in your checking and savings at the time of FAFSA filing. This could impact your daughter’s ability to receive federal grants and need-based financial aid, as colleges may expect you to use those funds to contribute to her education.

  30. Rose says:

    I am married and currently attending a university full time and financial aid covers around 80% of tuition. This year my husband has not been able to find a job, it has been a hard year, and if we continue like this, he will end up earning lower than what is needed to file taxes. I am worried about my financial aid eligibility if we do not file. And if I do qualify, what will I need to prove income? Because he does side jobs and gets cash.
    Thank you.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Even if you do not file a tax return, be sure to complete the FAFSA. You will need to supply proof of any income you received, including any earned from side jobs. You can verify income through bank receipts and certified letters from anyone who paid you in cash, as well as the traditional pay stub.

  31. Sharon says:

    Hi, I started my last semester in April of this year. I did my fasfa in January and no one said it was a mistake on it. But when I started to school in April they said they had a hold up on the fasfa . So I called back after a month or so and that was May. So in May I got the same story. June the same story. Ok July rolls around and I graduated on July 6 th and I’m still waiting on my pell I remind you. But on July 8 th they told me that I had a correction that needed to be fixed and that if I fixed it that I would receive my pell. So today I called and the financial aid rep told me that I was not eligible to receive the pell because I had graduated already. But the woman at the fasfa office told me that it was approved in February so why can’t I get my pell from my last semester? And I also got a bill for money owed when I started school they told me that I wouldn’t have to worry about spending outta pocket at that time because pells and all would take care of my schooling. Is this correct that I am not eligible to get my pell grant because no one told me to make any corrections?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Sharon. I would contact the FAFSA office directly for advice on this situation. It is typically the student’s responsibility to make sure the form has been filed and accepted. Once you were notified of the hold, you should have gone back into your application to correct it or called the FAFSA office for additional assistance. The situation is complicated now that you have graduated and we have started a new school year, but it doesn’t hurt to contact the FAFSA office to see what may be done to have your previous award applied to any past due amount from the semester you should have received the award. You can reach them at 1-800-433-3243 or 319-337-5665, or you may email them at

  32. Ann V says:

    Hi, Our 17yo is applying for FAFSA. There are 4 parents total, 2 households, each with a bio parent and a step parent. The form is asking for bio and step-parent income information. Everyone has decent jobs, however sending a child to college will still be a financially hard on both households. One household is supporting children at home and in college already, the other will still have dependents at home. Is it necessary to put all 4 parents income information?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Ann,

      You will not claim all parents on the FAFSA. You need only include the income from the set of parents who have primary custody or those he/she resides with for the majority of the year. If he/she resides with you (or you have primary custody), you would include your income and your spouse’s on the form.

  33. AnnJ says:

    Hi Tamara, My daughter will be a independent student when she files for Fafas for 2015 she turns 24 in April. I need a tax break for my personal taxes and would like to claim her as a dependent when I do my taxes for 2014, will this affect her in anyway when she does her Fafsa for 2015 year. What would you reccommend that I do. Previous years when we did Fafsa she got no grants only was offered loans, I’m assuming this coming year she should benefit as a independent student that is single w/no dependents of her own. Fyi her income earned for year 2014 will be approximately $6,000. I would appreciate your guidance input.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If she is filing FAFSA in January 2015 (and turning 24), she will be eligible for independent status and only her income will need to be recorded on the form. Your tax filing status will not affect her ability to receive federal financial aid. If she was a full-time student during 2014 (at least 5 months of the year), you are still eligible to list her as a dependent when filing your 2014 taxes. The only thing that may hinder her ability to receive federal financial aid is the length of time she has been in her college degree program. In general, most students receive funding for 5-6 years while pursuing a BA/BS. She’ll need to check with her college financial aid office to make sure she has not exhausted her funding.

  34. Chris M says:

    I have a bit of a different issue. I’m not sure if you can help or not but I will ask. I have applied for FAFSA, and been approved. I already have an AAS degree but my company closed and I went back for my LPN. I am now wanting to get my RN but the school I want to attend, a two year school, won’t allow me to receive any financial aid because I have too many credit hours and have an Associates degree already. Is there anyway I can receive my financial aid since I am eligible for it. I think it is crazy since it is federal funds I am receiving and not from the school They won’t allow me to take a loan either.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      The school is correct. You are only allowed so much financial aid at the associate’s level and once you exhaust it you must pay out of pocket or use private scholarships. You would, however, still be able to access federal financial aid if you decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Although you cannot get federal funding for another AS/AA level degree, you can take out private student loans or look into peer-to-peer funding opportunities, as well as private scholarships.

  35. kate mormil says:


    I believe that you have good information; however, you have failed to correctly advise on a couple of issues. One person advised that there parent was denied the Parent Plus Loan because of negative credit. They are eligible for Parent Plus Unsubsidized Denial Funds. Additionally, the Pell Grant is not necessarily limited to those who make under $30,000. We make $70,000 and our EFC is $3000. We are eligible for the Pell Grant for 2014-2015. It is all dependent on a various key factors. As mentioned, it is most important to file your FAFSA to determine what your EFC is and then go from there.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      In cases of a parent credit denial or when an alternate, eligible borrower is not available, the student may be considered independent for loan purposes only. As such, eligibility for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan increases. This additional student borrowing will likely be less than the PLUS but should help the student in meeting educational costs. Freshmen and sophomores are eligible for an increase of up to $4,000 based on cost of education. Juniors and seniors can get up to an additional $5,000. Students are not automatically offered this option; they must contact their financial aid offices immediately after the denial and request consideration. As mentioned in previous comments, in general, a family of four with an income below $30k will be eligible for full Pell Grant funding, but how much you receive depends on your EFC and COA. This chart is very helpful in determining how much a family might receive.

  36. Jen says:

    Can you tell me how accurate the FAFSACaster is at predicting aid? I have entered information and it comes up with $10,000 between financial aid and a grant. Should I not get my kids (twins) hopes up that they will not have loans if the cost of attendance is below $10,000? Is 100% of the cost really covered?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      It’s pretty accurate, but remember that it will be based on your 2014 taxes, so it may change slightly if you are using last year’s figures. It’s also fairly difficult to find a college (4-year) with a cost of attendance below $10,000. The tuition may be below that mark, but your kids will still need to cover student fees, books, meal plans (often required for freshmen), housing and other expenses. They should be using any free time they have to apply for scholarships to help cover any gaps they may have between federal and institutional aid, and the cost of attendance.

  37. Alejandra says:

    Hey Tamara I’m planning to transfer to a 4 year private university, can I get
    Financial aid to cover full tuition if I’m the first to go to college in my family.
    I have not apply for fafsa I’m working part time to pay for my community college classes.I have 4 brothers and two sisters. My families income is not really high.
    Or would you recommend me just to attend a public university.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Alejandra. I would suggest applying to both private and public colleges, and see which one offers you the best financial aid package. You definitely need to complete the FAFSA, as it is the key to free federal and institutional aid. Your status as a first generation student does not guarantee you will get enough aid to cover all your expenses, but there are plenty of scholarships available to you. Just put in a little bit of work each week applying for private scholarships and researching available awards at your prospective schools.

  38. Madeline says:


    We do not own a house, but have money in mutual fund and stocks. We put aside the money hoping to buy a house some day. My husband used to earn( 2 years ago) 2 times more than what is currently earning. He has vision problem which prevents him from using the computer for more than a few hours, so he cannot go back to the tech industry to earn more. He decided that he likes to teach and has been happy with it. So even though we have less income now and cannot afford the high tuition, we may not get the aid we need because we have the money we saved. My job in health care is also not a well paying one.

    Does this mean we cannot qualify for financial aid at all? How does it work?
    Thanks a lot.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Regardless of your income and assets, you should still complete the FAFSA. This will give you access to other financial aid offered at institutions, some of which may not be need based. If you do not qualify for Pell Grant funding or other need-based aid, you can still apply for other scholarships that reward students based on their chosen career field, academics, talents or a simple writing prompt. The easiest way to locate these opportunities is to register for a free account with and start applying asap!

  39. Lisa Kazmierski says:

    Hi Tamara, I think you are so helpful with providing information about financial aid, this is something that has many unknown strategies. This past January, we just went through the process of applying and receiving financial aid for my daughter to go to a private college. She received a great package,including a scholarship and a school grant, and we were very pleased with it. She is loving this school, and we are thrilled. Now, I went back to school, and started a semester in the community college. I also applied to a hospital based school which is partnered with another community college so I could receive a degree in the healthcare program I am interested in. I applied to this hospital based school for financial aid a long time before I even applied. After calling the financial aid officer to ask if my application could be reviewed, she told me I needed to apply first. I applied, but think I made the mistake of not calling right back after applying because I was accepted two weeks later. I had to send in a non-refundable acceptance fee, and have now committed to this school. I was wondering since I have now committed, if this affects how much aid the school will actually offer. With my daughter we compared a few financial aid packages from different schools, and even though I knew this to be an advantage, I did not do this for myself. Do schools offer less to already committed students? I know they have a formula for federal aid but what about the school’s aid? Did I ruin my chances of getting more aid?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      That’s not an easy question to answer. For high school seniors who apply using early decision, there may be a chance of getting less financial aid because acceptance is binding and the school knows the student must attend. You, however, are in a totally different position. On one hand, it could be to your favor that you submitted your financial aid paperwork early, applied and was accepted, as some schools give out aid on a first-come, first-served basis. You are also free to withdraw without any serious drawbacks (other than losing the deposit), so you could still check out other programs and financial aid offers. Your federal aid should not be affected, but what the school offers in addition to that is totally up to them. If it is not sufficient, I suggest meeting with the financial aid staff and asking about additional aid opportunities that might be available to you. Don’t forget that you can also apply to the monthly scholarships and use the money for any degree, at any accredited U.S. college.

  40. Joyce says:

    I get my salary once a year. How can I show that this is my income for the year and not a huge surplus in my bank account ? I know they ask for your bank balance.
    Thanks so much,

    • Tamara Krause says:

      You should receive some form of documentation from your employer for tax purposes. That is what you will need to verify your income. It may not be a bad idea to also have your employer sign a notarized statement testifying that you are only paid once per year.

  41. celeste says:

    hi,I have a question I currently have a savings account and I am also added into an account of my mothers will having money in different accounts affect my financial aid? should I exempt myself from those accounts?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If you have money in a savings account for yourself and your mother has one, too, both will count on the FAFSA. Money in your bank accounts is assessed at a higher rate than money in your parents’ accounts, so you may want to move your savings into your mom’s.

  42. TS says:

    I have four children ages 19,12,9, & 4. I am unable to provide financial help to my child for college; she has worked and used unsubsidized loans to put herself through college. My husband will receive a bonus this year which we need to use for a down payment on a house; however,this will probably lower the amount of fed loans my child will receive. What can I do? I have not even purchased a book for her (not that I am not willing to) we live paycheck to paycheck with only one income why does government think we are making too much money when I have three other children to raise?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If your EFC seems too high, I would encourage your daughter to set an appointment with her financial aid office to see if they can make adjustments. She should also be working to help lower her debt by applying to as many scholarships as possible and looking into work-study or other part-time employment opportunities. I would also encourage her to look at other schools that may have lower tuition and fees, as this may be contributing to her student loan debt.

  43. TS says:

    Part time jobs are great;(which she has work-study during school year and summer paid internship) however , she is only allowed to make seven thousand a year before taking away her financial aid (which includes work-study job). It’s a catch 22. You can get a job, but don’t make too much over the summer; even though it won’t be enough to pay your tuition it could be too much for you to qualify for financial aid. Something needs to change this is why so many students never get out of debt even if they’re lucky enough to get a job!!!! The school she is in is the lowest cost university for her field. Thanks for your help!

  44. Teresa says:

    My son will be attending college next fall and we were advised to apply to 6-8 schools so that the schools would more of less compete for our student and give a better financial package. He has already narrowed his search to one school, but we are willing to submit applications to other schools if it will increase our chances for a better package from the school. If this is true, how complete do these other applications need to be? Transcripts and scores? each of these documents have a fee and it is beginning to add up. If there is no advantage to this strategy then we wont bother and spend the money on the extra documents. Thank you for your help

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Unless your son is a National Merit Finalist, a top student in his class, or an elite athlete, applying to several colleges in the hopes of gaining more financial aid will probably not work for you. I would still suggest, howvever, applying to at least one or two back-up schools, just in case he isn’t accepted at his first choice. In the meantime, encourage your son to be proactive in his quest for financial aid. He should be applying to local, state and national scholarship programs, as well as reviewing potential scholarship opportunities at the colleges he is considering. Be sure to check with your HR department to see if there are any available scholarships or tuition reimbursement programs.

  45. baltazar martinez says:

    my son graduated from high school in May 2014. He has been working every summer for the past three years and is currently working part time while attending community college. He did not receive any grants for the current school year due to parents income. He recently moved out and is living with grandmother who does not charge him any rent or living expenses. We will no longer be able to claim him as a dependent on our 2014 tax return. on the next fafsa application, can he claim himself independent or does he still apply as dependent due to his age? He turned 18 May 2014. if he is not able to apply independent, at what age can he apply independent?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Unfortunately, he will still need to include your income on his FAFSA until he is 24, married, joins the military or has a child of his own. It doesn’t matter if he’s living on his own (or with another relative) or if he’s included on your tax forms, he’ll still be considered dependent in the eyes of the government (FAFSA).

  46. monica says:

    Hello, my son is a Sr and plans to attend college this fall. I am at a loss with the whole financial piece of college and know I cannot afford to put him through college. I am hoping you can help with a couple of questions. If the amt he receives from financial aid does not cover tuition would he be able to apply for student loans? How does his parents salary play a role? I have primary custody, am single and receive no child support. I am an RN with a salary of about 65k’ish, is this range in salary a range where he may be denied any help? How early is too early to complete the FASFA? And please advise where to get started for scholarships. Thanks in advance.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi, Monica. First of all, have your son register for a free account at There he will be able to find scholarships that match his unique talents, skills, and needs. You will need to fill out the FAFSA beginning January 1 and each January thereafter until he completes college. Your eligibility for aid is not based solely on your income. The cost of attendance and other factors are considered. If he does not qualify for any Pell Grants or other income-based aid, he will still have access to low-interest federal student loans (if he completes the FAFSA). Depending on the college he chooses, it may or may not be enough to cover all his expenses. In some cases, he may need private student loans to help. Typically, students will need a well-qualified (720 or higher credit score) cosigner to receive a private student loan. Be sure to have your son rgeister for a FAFSA PIN before January and start gathering the necessary documents. January will be here before you know it!

  47. Justina says:

    Hi I would like to know if I get to keep the rest of the money awarded like lets say for fall and spring i get an amount 100/100 and i go for the fall semester they give me 50/50 and whats left i keep and lets say for spring i go part time not full time do i get the rest of the 50/50 like whats left or just some of what is left? I hope I make sense. T.I.A.

  48. Justina says:

    Sorry I meant 50/100 for fall and spring the rest of the 50 for whatever I need and whats left do I keep or just some if I go part time?? I tried going full but I can’t with the schedule I have

    • Tamara Krause says:

      You financial aid is determined not only by income, but also how many credit hours your are taking. If you drop below full-time status, your financial aid will be lowered accordingly in most circumstances.

  49. Jennifer says:

    We will be filling out the FAFSA for January 2015. My 17y/o daughter will be heading off to college. We are a military family and for the last 5 years we have lived overseas or at a military base where we are considered “mission essential” and are required to live on base. Up until 5 years ago we have always owned a house. I am worried because the money we received from the sale of our house has not been rolled back into another residence. If it were reinvested in a house, we would not look like we had as much padding in our accounts. Is this something we should appeal? Send a letter with documentation of military orders? Or is it unlikely to affect anything?
    Thanks for you help!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      The profit you derived from the sale of your home will have to be considered. Appealing will more than likely not change anything, as you have liquid assests at your disposal. It would be the same scenario for someone who moved in with a relative and paid little to no rent, but had money in a savings account from the sale of a home or other assests. If you have any big purchases planned (such as buying a car), make them before the end of the year, as this will help reduce your available income.

  50. Karry says:

    I attend a community college and receive a fair amount of financial aid. I usually use it for school necessities and the other half towards gas and food. Anyway my question is- Will I get the same or more amount of financial aid after I transfer into a 4 year university?
    I know it is based off of my parent’s income- I do not work at all because I enjoy being a full time student and getting through my education without distractions but I’m wondering if I will get less or more or none at all after I transfer to a 4 year school?

    My other question is, will I receive more money if I am independent and work on my own and have my own apartment? Or will I get less?

    Then my last question, will I get more financial aid if I live in the dorms or continue to be dependent of my parents?

    I know this is a lot to ask but hopefully you can be honest with me and email me if you can provide any more feedback on this without posting to this site- I need your help.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi, Karry. First, let’s tackle the issue of dependent versus independent. It actually has nothing to do with where you live or if you are working. It you’re under 24, you’re still considered a dependent student and must include your parents’ income unless you meet the criteria for an independent student (married, have a child, serving in the military, etc.). Based on the information you’ve provided, I’m guessing you’ll still be a dependent student. Now, let’s talk about the financial aid issue. Will you get more or less? That depends on many things. Yes, your family’s income is considered, but so is the cost of attendance (COA) and your enrollment status (full-time/part-time). Your COA will differ based on your living arrangement because they will factor in your rent/housing, as well as food and travel expenses. In general, if your family’s income has remained steady, you should see an increase in the amount of aid when you transfer. Be sure to check out the school’s net price calculator so you can estimate the difference in aid you may receive based on whether you live in the dorms or at home.

  51. Nina says:

    With 2 children in college in Sept 2015, what can I expect to receive in funds by completing FAFSA? Also in January, will I open a FAFSA in my daughter’s name (older) and include my son? Do they each get their own? Lastly, regarding income/numbers, would I be inputting yr end number for 2014, correct?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi, Nina. Both of your children we need to complete a separate FAFSA and they will need to do it every year until they complete college. You will be using your 2014 tax information to complete the form. You can use the FAFSA4caster to estimate the amount of aid each will receive.

  52. Janae says:

    I am 20 years old, i live on my own and make minimum wage. Fafsa gave me a really crappy subsidized loan at a 9% intrest due back immediately. It took me two years to save up for two classes. My parents do not help at all. And i have applied for every scholarship/grant i can get my hands on. How does anyone in my situation make it through college :(

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Many students start at community college and work while they take classes. Once you establish a high GPA, you can look into Honor programs, which often offer scholarships to help cover tuition and books. As far as the scholarship portion, it’s a good idea to pick 5-10 per month to work on to ensure you are submitting your best work, and keep applying until you finish college. Look at where you can cut costs in your life, too. Eliminate cable TV, high cell phone bills, and entertainment costs (eating out, movies, alcohol, etc.). Buy used textbooks, or borrow them from the library. Sell anything you don’t need (old videos, games, clothes, etc.) and live very frugally. It’s not fun, but it’s important to remember that it is temporary. As for the subsidized loan (which I think you meant unsubsidized), no payments are required until you have left school or graduated (there’s even a 6-month grace period). The interest will accrue while you are in school, but you are not required to pay it immediately (but it’s better if you do).

  53. Brian says:

    Can my 18 year-old cash out his UGMA mutual fund and gift it back to his parents to qualify for more financial aid?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      I would suggest speaking to a financial planner to see if it is possible and the potential downside to doing it (such as tax liability).

  54. traderJoe says:

    I make about 100k (consider middle class in our town). My daughter will be senior next year, should I forget about apply federal grant? Also do they check our financial history (bank statements) if I do apply for any schlarships? Thanks

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Everyone, regardless of income, should complete the FAFSA. Although your daughter may not qualify for a need-based grant (depends on her cost of attendance, too), she would have access to low-interest federal student loans, if she needed them. Most colleges also require the form to be completed in order to access institutional aid, such as merit-based scholarships. In general, you will only need to provide financial documentation for need-based (income-based) scholarships.

  55. Stephanie says:

    I’ve heard there is a limit on how much a student can earn from their job in one year, without it affecting their financial aide. Do you know the exact dollar amount we should allow our daughter to earn?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      There is no specific amount because your child’s financial aid will differ based on which school he/she is attending and whether he/she is living on or off campus.

  56. anne smith says:

    My son is a h.s. junior this year. He is an average student so he won’t qualify for merit aid. We recently inherited a large sum of money from my father in law’s estate, which is now sitting in our savings account. Where is the best place to put that money (other than under the mattress) so it is not counted toward our EFC when we fill out our FAFSA in January 2016?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      I would speak to a financial planner to see how the money may be invested to reduce the effect it may have on your son’s financial aid.

  57. Gaby says:

    Hello, so as of now I am receiving Federal Aid to pay my tuition. Not all the money that I got awarded has been used and I thought of saving it for tuition when I transfer to a university. So I had a question. In saving this money and letting it accumulate with other left over money from next semester will that affect the award I would get for next school year? And if so what can I do to prevent it?

    Another question is if I were to transfer to a private university will I still be eligible to apply for FAFSA?

    Than you for your time!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Gaby. The amount of aid you receive is not only determined by your income, but also the cost of attendance and how many credit hours (part-time or full-time) you are taking. The overage you may have is probably money that was available to help you cover other expenses, such as travel and housing. Please note that anything you don’t use toward qualifying IRS educational expenses could be subject to tax, as it will be considered income. It’s not a bad idea to ask the financial aid office to rollover your money into next semester (spring), as the federal aid you receive is determined annually. It could, however, reduce scholarship or grant amounts you received from your college. Anything you still have in your personal savings/checking after January 1 will have to be disclosed on the 2015-2016 FAFSA, so it could affect your aid (though probably not that much). You can avoid this by purchasing items you may need for next year, such as a laptop or other school items, before December 31. If you transfer to an accredited private college, you would complete the FAFSA and probably the CSS/Profile (non-federal aid), as well.

  58. Mike says:

    Is it possible to no longer claim our 18 year old High School Senior as a dependent, allowing her to claim only her very small income on the FAFSA application, rather than our income?? … She will not qualify for any FAFSA monies using our income, but we thought if only her income was listed, she could then qualify for something from FAFSA.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Unfortunately, the FAFSA doesn’t work like that. Even if your child lived separately from you and you did not claim her on your taxes, she would still be required to include your income unless she met one of the conditions of being an ‘independent’ student. Generally, students under the age of 24 must include their parents’ income. You can take this quiz to determine if she meets eligibility as an independent student, but it doesn’t sound like she does. It’s still important for her to complete the FAFSA, regardless of your income, as this will give her access to work-study opportunities and low-interest federal student loans. In order to receive scholarships (even those that are not need-based) from colleges, she’ll also need to submit the form.

  59. Mackenzie Brethauer says:

    Hi!, I’m a senior in high school planing on spending a couple years at community college before starting on my way to med school. I’m applying for FAFSA but right now all thats available is the 2014 – 2015 application. If I don’t begin school until the fall of 2015, should I apply for this? I’m really confused, and I’m the oldest so I kind of on my own to figure all this out. Thanks you so much for any help!

  60. Carol says:

    the income i put on the college application might be different from fafsa, will there be any consequences to that? I’m a senior applying for fafsta 2015-2016. also, my father is losing his job this month, will I be able to receive more financial aid or is it only for next year application? thank you

    • Tamara Krause says:

      The 2015-2016 FAFSA will be based on 2014 income, but you can ask your college for reconsideration if the amount of financial aid is not enough. IIn some cases (such as loss of income or a medical emergency), the college will increase your aid package after you have provided proof of the change in income.

  61. Joan says:


    My mom and dad are divorced and I live with my Dad. He is disabled and has not been able to work for the last 3 years so he has not filed any tax returns. My mother has sent money to support me and has put me as a dependent on her tax return. I am a senior and will need to fill out the fafsa for next year. I am supposed to put the income of the parent I am living with. What do I do?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Joan. If you live with your father, you would need to include his income (if any) and not your mother’s. It doesn’t matter who claims you on taxes. This is actually good for you, as you’ll receive more financial aid using your father’s income. If he doesn’t receive any income, you’ll place a ‘0’ in those sections.

  62. cindy says:

    I’m 19, I lived with my dad who is 68 and retired. My mom lives in Indiana so she isn’t involved. However my dad just moved to Arizona so I am currently living with one aunt on some weeks and another aunt and uncle other weeks. (I live on California )
    How does this affect my financial aid that I am no longer with my dad? What should I do?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Unfortunately, regardless of where or with whom you live, you will still need to claim your parents on your FAFSA. If they are still legally married, you would need to put both on the form. If they are divorced, you would use your father’s income. Your state of residency is also determined by your father (or parent with primary custody). For this year (2015), it would be whichever state he lived in for the last 12 months.

  63. kimoni says:

    Hi Tamara,
    I have been awarded FA for the 2014-2015 school year and I’ve never asked about the housing and transportation money that is shown on the award page. I’m a mother of two young children and I’m not working. Can I get that money to help pay my rent and other bills. I never asked about because I thought you have to live on campus and they never explained it to me

    The money for housing, food and travel who does it go back to when you did not use it? Because the FA office did not inform you of it.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Kimoni. At the beginning of the semester, you should have been directed to go into your student financial aid account and accept or deny any financial aid offered to you. That money would then be placed in your student account and be used to cover your tuition, books and other fees. Any overage (which would have included living and travel expenses) is then typically disbursed to you 6-8 weeks after the semester begins. The money you currently see on your account may also be set aside for the spring semester, so it’s probably a good idea to visit the FA office soon to figure out what money is still available to you.

  64. Amy says:

    I have started completing the FAFSA forms for my daughter who will begin college this fall. We currently have $$ in savings from the sale of a house. If we apply for a mortgage this month to purchase the house we are currently renting from my parents, may I update my asset balances when I update my tax info for 2014? Thanks so much for your help!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Unfortunately, you must declare any money you currently have in savings when completing the FAFSA. Since you did not purchase a home in 2014, it will not change your filing this year. It will, however, help on next year’s taxes and FAFSA.

  65. letty says:

    Hello 2013 i earned 50k and my son got financial aid 2014 I earned almost 80k due to plenty overtime will my son still get financial aid?

  66. nhuuyen44 says:

    should i or should i not put in how much the parents and the children have in their checking and saving accounts. Or is it better to put zeroes for that section? and is it require to put in how much your child got for scholarships and grants in the past year (i am filing this for the second time btw). Please answer. Thank you!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      You must include any money you and your parents (if you’re a dependent student) have in both savings and checking accounts. If you received money back from your financial aid last year that was not used for eligible educational expenses, it could be considered income and would also need to be included on the form. If you have any questions, you can always contact the FAFSA help desk for additional assistance,

  67. Lino says:

    Hi Tamara,

    Thank you for all of your great insight. Is there any way for a student applying for student aid (FAFSA) to not include parental income and assets? What if a student doesn’t live with his/her parents, doesn’t receive support from his/her parents, and/or the parent’s don’t include the child as a dependent? In that situation, can the child/student exclude parental information? How does that work?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Regardless of where you live or the support you receive from your parents, if you’re a dependent student (and must under 24 are) you’ll need to include their income. If there are special circumstances where you are unable to get that information (, the FAFSA has a section for you to submit that information and it will then skip the parental income questions, if your situation qualifies.

  68. Jan Vandervaal says:

    My dependent daughter is filling out her FAFSA. In 2014, I am a federal employee and had taken out a Thrift Savings Plan (Retirement) Loan for house repairs/improvement and car purchase. As our car purchase transaction did not complete in 2014 as planned as we decided to wait on a 2015 model, the funds was kept in a savings. As FAFSA does not require the reporting of the value of a retirement accounts, and since I was borrowing from this retirement account and I’ve been paying the required monthly loan payments, are the funds being stored in a regular savings account discloseable on the FAFSA?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Yes. The funds you currently have in your saving would be considered income at this point since they were not used for the purchase.

      • Jan Vandervaal says:

        I truly was not aware when we submitted the FAFSA as I thought borrowing (not withdrawing) from TSP contributions which were tax-deferred were not considered in financial aid analysis. So once the FAFSA is fully processed and colleges have been sent the electronic SAR, can the student still correct the total amount of the cash, savings account etc. to reflect the addition of the untouched TSP loan balance currently in the savings account?

        • Tamara Krause says:

          The contributions are not considered, if they remain in the TSP and are not withdrawn. Yes, you can log back into the FAFSA and make corrections.

  69. Cristal Thomas says:

    I originally submitted my FAFSA on January 2 and it was processed by January 5. However, I made a correction to the application on January 16. Has making this correction delayed my processing and affected how much money will be available to me?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      The colleges on your list will receive an updated SAR, which may or may not affect your financial aid offer. It should not, however, cause any significant delays since it’s only been a few weeks since you originally submitted the form.

  70. Sarah says:

    If a significant amount of money is saved for college, how long should we wait after filing the FAFSA to move the money into our son’s account? We need to put it into his account but when is the best time?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If the money is already in your account and has been included in the parent section of the FAFSA, you can transfer it to him at any time.

  71. Jean McDowell says:

    I am filling out 2015-2016 FAFSA for my daughter for her third year.
    At the beginning of 2014 my husband was disabled
    and receives SSDisability. He also has a private disability
    insurance policy which is paying monthly as well. The private insurance
    Is not taxable, does this need to be reported on the FAFSA?
    Also currently the refund of excess aid is in a One account for her
    Off campus room and board and other allowed expenses.
    How should that be handled. Thank you for your response.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Jean. Yes, all sources of untaxed income must also be reported on the FAFSA. The refund of excess student aid is also treated as income and may even be taxable if it wasn’t used to cover educational expenses in the year it was received (or first three months of the following year). Unfortunately, under the IRS, room and board are not considered an eligible expense.

  72. Lizbeth says:

    Helo, I’m applying for fafsa this Monday but I have some doubts.
    Since 2012 my dad had a job accident and hasn’t work since then. Ever since he hasn’t had a formal work. He basically only helps my mom with the baby sitting. My mom baby sits 2 girls and gets 200 weekly which isn’t nothing. By 2013 the one working was my oldest brother but he got ill this year and quit. He as well works independently installing stereos in cars. So I don’t know what to file if we don’t have any tax papers and don’t make enough to tax.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Definitely apply. If your family’s income is low, it could result in considerable free financial aid for you. If your parents aren’t required to file (btw – your brother’s income won’t be needed on your form), you’ll simply put a “0” in the income sections and answer the questions provided. If you need assistance, you can always contact the help desk for answers to any questions you may have about the form.

  73. Christine says:

    Hi I have a question. I was told that I was pretty much tapped out on both my Pell grants and financial assistance and I am ready to start my BSN in Nursing program. The school I’m attending basically told me I gotta pay for the classes up front but it is very expensive, 1400 every 5 weeks, that’s because it’s a class every 5 weeks. I just would like to know what I can do to help me get more $ to help with school, and how can I truly find out if I am done with getting $. I filled out my fafsa n it says I was eligible, so I am confused.
    Thank you.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Depending upon your program, you can only receive federal financial aid for up to 150% of the time it takes to earn your degree. That’s typically 5-6 years for most students earning a bachelor’s degree. If you went to school previously or changed degree paths, this could be why your federal financial aid is tapped out. You can always contact the FAFSA help desk for more information, but it appears you may have to look into private student loans and private scholarships to help you going forward.

  74. Nancy says:

    Hi Tamara! I recently started a part time job that actually pays really well for the region that I live in. If I worked more hours, I’d make more than my mom does on average. Would my income, affect my financial aid significantly? I use my mom’s income when filing for my FAFSA.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Nancy. yes, your income could impact your eligibility for financial aid because it is assessed at a higher rate than your parent’s income. Both yours and your parent’s income must be included when you file.

  75. Hilary says:

    I am a single mother of 2. I attend a community college and have received financial aid for 2013-14. I have been unemployed since Oct. 2013 so I decided to work on obtaining my degree with hopes of gaining better employment opportunities. This tax season, my children’s father would like to claim them on his taxes for the first time. Will it effect my 2015 financial aid award if I allow him to? They live with me, so I’m not sure how that works.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If you provided over 50% of their care and they lived with you for the majority of the year, you should still be able to include them as dependents on your FAFSA.

  76. David Estrada says:

    I started to fill out the FAFSA application and have some doubts. I am living with my sister since May, 2014 when I moved from Puerto Rico to New York. My sister has joint custody with my parents granted by the court. She has included me in the 2014 tax return since I reside with her.

    My doubts are if I have to fill out the income information in the FAFSA application from my parents or from my sister. Also the due date to apply for this year.

    I highly appreciate your assistance in these matters.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If your parents still have legal custody of you (which they do), you will need to use their income on the form regardless of where you are currently living. The federal due date is June 30, but most colleges have much earlier dates. Contact the financial aid office at any college you are applying to and ask about its FAFSA deadline. Some are as early as February 1, so don’t delay in finding out this information.

  77. erica arreola says:

    My son will be starting his first year of college in june 2015 .what fafsa would he need to fill out the 2014-2015 or 2015-2016?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Both. If he is entering for the summer semester (June 2015), he’ll need to complete the 2014-2015 for any funding he may be eligible to receive for that semester. He will also need to complete the 2015-2016 FAFSA if he plans to enroll in fall 2015, spring 2016 and/or summer 2016. Each January, he will need to complete a new FAFSA until he completes his degree.

  78. erica arreola says:

    Ok thank you so much .

  79. Heather says:

    Should you wait until you receive your financial package before applying for housing? Will it ruin my daughters chances at getting more money because the school considers a student committed if they apply for housing? I want to get as much money for her as we can because her dad and I both have student loans and cannot afford to pay hers too.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      No, the housing will not affect the amount of aid they offer her because it is based on her FAFSA information. If she waits too long to apply for housing, she’ll get stuck with the leftovers and won’t have many options.

  80. Lydia says:

    I was a homemaker for 18 years and am now in school myself trying to get a nursing degree. (I also work full time) My husband is a farmer and the economy has hit us hard the last ten years or so, he’s barely made any money. Why is a parent not counted as two people in a household in college? I still have to pay for some of my own tuition too besides my daughter’s. This apparently counts for NOTHING on FAFSA. How on earth are you supposed to get ahead in this world? Seriously! Thank you US Government.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      It is counted on FAFSA, just not your child’s. It is, however, factored into your financial aid estimation.

  81. Tim says:

    I don’t have a question…I just wanted to tell you I think it’s amazing you actually took the the time to reply to everyone that commented. Thank you for being so generous and helpful.

  82. Michael says:

    Hi Tamara,
    Thanks for your amazingly generous help. I have a joint savings account with my spouse (unmarried). Do I need to claim the entire amount, or only 50%?
    I am 33 years old, so no longer a dependent of my parents. However, my mother still keeps my name on a bank account (that I never access), which she thinks of as a rainy day fund. This account has her name and my name on it. Do I need to claim this account? 50%? 100%?
    Thanks for your help,

    • Tamara Krause says:

      You will need to claim the entire amount in your spousal account (as well as any income your spouse receives). If you’re name is on the account with your mother (not just an authorized signature in case of death), these funds (100%) will also need to be included as you could potentially access the entire amount at any point.

  83. Maria says:

    Hi, I filled out the FASFA for my daughter who is a current HS senior. According to the estimated about it say I should be able to pay about $11,000 for her school. The first school she was accepted offered her $12,000 merit award and $500 state award. They offered her $5,000 in loans and me $33,000 in loans for the first year…. that is half my yearly salary. If the FASFA said I should be able to afford $11,000 why would they not offer more and offer me a loan for $11,000?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Your EFC is an estimate of how much you should be able to contribute to your child’s college education for this upcoming year. That number is used by colleges to determine your financial aid package. Because of your income, it appears she is not eligible for any need-based aid, so this is why she was offered a merit-based scholarship and loans. It is up to each college to determine how much additional aid it will offer to help cover the gap between the Cost of Attendance and your EFC. Some schools are more generous than others, but it is not uncommon for many to offer loans (federal and/or private) to cover those expenses. My advice would be to have your daughter look at other colleges that may be closer to your family’s budget, including in-state public universities and community colleges. If she attends this school you should anticipate receiving a similar package each year (or having to take out even more in loans), which means you could end up with over $120,000 in Parent PLUS loans. I doubt that you’ll want to be paying back those loans while you are trying to save for your retirement. In general, your child should not take out any student loan debt that is greater than her anticipated salary for the first year out of college. So, for example, if she plans to be a teacher and the starting salary in her area is around $39,000 that would also be the total loan debt she should take out over all the years she is in college, not just one year.

  84. Katy says:

    Our oldest son will enter college in fall 2015. We have been diligent about saving money, but it’s mostly in savings & checking accts & will have to be declared on FAFSA. We have a UPlan acct that will cover tuition & fees, but not room & board. Our AGI is not that high, but our assets will probably negate any chance of financial aid. We have our younger son (no UPlan) & our retirement to worry about, so we still need to save money. Can we tuck some of our cash into a retirement acct now, to avoid declaring it on FAFSA? How late is too late?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      You will need to move the money to your retirement account before you complete the FAFSA, as it requests that you declare assets as of the day you are applying.

  85. Meg says:

    Does the Pell grant consider a married couple as 1 person or will each person receive their own aid?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      If you are married and both attending college, you will each need to complete the FAFSA and you will each receive your own separate financial aid.

  86. pang says:

    Hi Tam:

    Thanks for the great information on college financial aid. My daughter is senior and had just sent in her Fafsa. Does she have to apply every year for her entire college?


    • Tamara Krause says:

      Yes. Her financial aid package changes from year to year, depending on your family’s income. She’ll need to complete the FAFSA every January until she graduates from college.

  87. Nancy says:

    Hi Tamara,
    I heard that FAFSA includes the current base year 401K and IRA contribution as an income. Is that true?
    Talking about the income ceilings, is it the gross income on W2 and 1099 or is it Adjusted Gross Income on 1040 form? If my husband and I have a gross income of $83,000 when the current income ceiling is $80,200 will FAFSA consider my daughter’s application? If not, how we can make our income decreased?
    Will financial aid staffs ask for the tax returns prior the base year tax return during verification process? If yes, will they question if the interest income from saving accounts of the prior year was high when the base year’s was low or zero? How far can they look back on bank accounts?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Nancy. Retirement assets, such as your 401K and IRA are not included in the calculation of your EFC. Regardless of your income level, you should still file the FAFSA. Although your income level may not give her access to the Pell Grant, she would still be eligible for federal student loans and possibly need-based aid through the college/university (depending on where she enrolls). If you are selected for verification, you will need to provide your most recent tax forms, as well as other asset documentation. Since you are required to include the total money available in your checking and savings account at the time of filing, you should also be prepared to provide bank statements from that date forward.

  88. John Gusman says:

    My wife receives a wage from the state (IHSS in California) for taking care of our developmentally disabled daughter (middle daughter). I claimed it on the FAFSA as income as it should be. Is there leniency on the amount? Anotherwords, do programs such as these affect the amount awarded? BTY, this is for my oldest daughter who is a senior this year (not my disable daughter).

    • Tamara Krause says:

      I’m not familiar with the IHSS program, so I would encourage you to contact the FAFSA help desk (1-800-433-3243) or speak directly to someone at the financial aid office where your daughter intends on enrolling.


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